The Weekend Car Scheme



The Weekend Car (WEC) scheme was introduced on 1 May 1991.1 Two revamped versions of the WEC scheme were subsequently introduced, namely the Off-Peak Car (OPC) Scheme from 1 October 1994 and the Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC) Scheme from 25 January 2010.2 These schemes offered new and existing car owners the option to save on car registration related fees and road taxes, in return for using their cars during restricted hours – mostly on weekends, public holidays and at night.3 Cars registered under the schemes are differentiated by red licence plates with white lettering.4

Objectives and rules of the WEC Scheme
The objective of the WEC scheme was to allow more people to own cars without contributing to traffic congestion. From 1 May 1991, new car buyers who opted for the WEC scheme were given a full rebate of the net Additional Registration Fee (ARF), import duty and Certificate of Entitlement or COE (a paid premium that allows Singapore residents the right to own a vehicle), up to a maximum rebate of $15,000. In addition, the road tax payable was 30 percent of the annual road tax of a normal car of the same capacity. The kick-off rebate of $15,000 was reduced by $3,000 every subsequent year, until 1996 when the scheme was replaced by the electronic road pricing system.5


Existing car owners who converted to the WEC scheme from 1 May 1991 only needed to pay 5 percent of the road tax for the equivalent of a typically registered car, but would not receive any rebates on the ARF, import duty or COE.6

In anticipation of the start of the WEC scheme on 1 May 1991, a new COE category for weekend cars was created and the public bidding exercise for 250 weekend car COEs was carried out in April 1991.7

The original hours for weekend car use were: 7pm to 7 am on weekdays; after 3pm on Saturdays and all day on Sundays and public holidays. Drivers who wanted to use their weekend cars during restricted hours had to display a special daily licence for that day. Drivers received five free such licenses a year and extra ones were available at $20 each.8

The off-peak car (OPC) scheme
The WEC scheme was replaced by a newly revamped scheme from 1 October 1994 called the Off-Peak Car (OPC) scheme. This scheme particularly benefitted those buying smaller cars (below 1,600 cc) for use during off-peak periods.9


Owing to a loophole in the WEC scheme, certain car owners, especially those with larger capacity cars, managed to earn huge savings on road taxes and lower COE prices by buying and registering larger weekend cars, and then purchasing the $20-per-day special licence that allowed them to use their cars throughout the day.10

The major difference between the OPC and WEC schemes was that there was no separate category of COE for such cars. All car buyers would bid for regular COEs and indicate if it were an OPC when registering the car.11

Car owners also received an upfront rebate of $17,000 when purchasing the car, as well as an $800 flat discount on annual road tax subject to a minimum road tax payment of $50. The new tax concessions were intended to plug the loophole in the WEC scheme by being more attractive to those who did not use their OPCs more than four days a week on average, including Sundays and public holidays. Owners of bigger cars had previously enjoyed more savings under the WEC scheme because their base taxes were higher.12

OPC drivers still had to pay $20 for the license to drive during restricted hours. With the OPC scheme, regular cars could no longer be converted to the old WEC scheme. However, existing regular cars converted to the OPC scheme enjoyed the same incentives as the new OPCs. Owners of big cars under the WEC scheme who found it unattractive to retain their WECs for daily use because of the reduced road tax savings could opt out of the WEC scheme.13

The revised off-peak car (ROPC) scheme
From 25 January 2010, the OPC scheme was further tweaked to become the Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC) scheme which aimed to encourage drivers to join the scheme and ease congestion around the island. The ROPC scheme allowed more unrestricted time on the road – all day Saturday and the eves of five major public holidays (New Year, Lunar New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas), in addition to public holidays, Sundays and off-peak weekday hours.14

The upfront rebate of $17,000 was still offered to new ROPCs and regular car owners who converted to the ROPC scheme were now entitled to further cash rebates of up to $1,100 every six months until their cars reached 10 years of age. This meant that such ROPC converts could receive cash rebates earlier instead of having to wait until their vehicles were scrapped. All ROPCs also enjoyed a flat discount of up to $500 on annual road tax, subject to a minimum road tax payment of $70.15

A new electronic licence, called the e-Day licence, was introduced to replace the print version of the $20-per-day licence. This was more convenient for drivers as the e-Day licences could be bought online, over short message service (SMS) and other sales outlets. ROPC, OPC and WEC drivers even had the option of driving their vehicles during restricted hours and purchasing the licence later, so long as it was before midnight the following day.16

Weekend / off-peak car statistics

After the introduction of the WEC scheme on 1 May 1991, the number of weekend cars grew steadily to about 5,300 by February 1992.17 By 2005, the number of off-peak cars reached 12,947 (3 percent of the 438,194 cars and station wagons registered) under the OPC scheme. The number of off-peak cars grew year on year until it reached the peak of 50,040 (8 percent of the 595,185 cars and station wagons registered) in 2010, when the ROPC scheme was introduced. Since 2011, however, the overall population of these off-peak vehicles has continued to shrink and numbered 30,469 (5 percent of the 602,311 cars and station wagons registered) in 2015.18



Author
Chris Tang



References
1. Weekend car registration. (1991, March 25). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Revised off-peak car / off-peak car / weekend car. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/transport-options-for-motorists/revised-off-peak-car-and-opc-and-weekend-car.html#6; Leong, C. T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Your guide to off peak car scheme, p. 1. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/RoadsMotoring/files/YourGuidetoOPCScheme.pdf
3. Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Revised off-peak car / off-peak car / weekend car. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/transport-options-for-motorists/revised-off-peak-car-and-opc-and-weekend-car.html#6
4. Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Your guide to off peak car scheme, p. 15. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/RoadsMotoring/files/YourGuidetoOPCScheme.pdf
5. Parliament approves Bill to allow weekend car scheme. (1991, March 23). The Straits Times, p. 22; Kumar, S. (1991, January 23). Govt to allow weekend car conversions. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Parliament approves Bill to allow weekend car scheme. (1991, March 23). The Straits Times, p. 22; Kumar, S. (1991, January 23). Govt to allow weekend car conversions. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Weekend car registration. (1991, March 25). The Business Times, p. 2; Leong, C.T. (1991, April 21). COEs for first batch of weekend cars is $3,600. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Chong, E. (1991, June 29). First driver caught flouting weekend car rules fined. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Leong, C.T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced.  The Straits Times, p. 1; Leong, C.T. (1993, November 27). Huge savings even if weekend car is used like a normal one. The Straits Times, p. 27; Divyanathan, R. (1994, September 9). Off-Peak Car scheme — need to keep it running smoothly. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Leong, C. T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced. The Straits Times, p. 1; Leong, C. T. (1993, November 27). Huge savings even if weekend car is used like a normal one. The Straits Times, p. 27; Divyanathan, R. (1994, September 9). Off-Peak Car scheme — need to keep it running smoothly. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Leong, C. T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced. The Straits Times, p. 1; Leong, C.T. (1993, November 27). Huge savings even if weekend car is used like a normal one. The Straits Times, p. 27; Divyanathan, R. (1994, September 9). Off-Peak Car scheme — need to keep it running smoothly. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Leong, C.T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced. The Straits Times, p. 1; Leong, C.T. (1993, November 27). Huge savings even if weekend car is used like a normal one. The Straits Times, p. 27; Divyanathan, R. (1994, September 9). Off-Peak Car scheme — need to keep it running smoothly. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Leong, C.T. (1994, September 1). Weekend car scheme to be replaced. The Straits Times, p. 1; Leong, C.T. (1993, November 27). Huge savings even if weekend car is used like a normal one. The Straits Times, p. 27; Divyanathan, R. (1994, September 9). Off-Peak Car scheme — need to keep it running smoothly. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Yeo, G.L. (2009, August 30). Off-peak car scheme revised. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Your guide to off peak car scheme, p. 1. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/RoadsMotoring/files/YourGuidetoOPCScheme.pdf
15. Yeo, G.L. (2009, August 30). Off-peak car scheme revised. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Your guide to off peak car scheme, pp. 2–3, 5. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/RoadsMotoring/files/YourGuidetoOPCScheme.pdf
16. Yeo, G.L. (2009, August 30). Off-peak car scheme revised. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Your guide to off peak car scheme, p. 7. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the LTA website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/RoadsMotoring/files/YourGuidetoOPCScheme.pdf
17. Cut in weekend car rebate: ROV will give 6 months’ notice. (1992, February 25). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Land Transport Authority. (2016, November 1). Annual vehicle statistics 2015: Motor vehicle population by vehicle type. Retrieved 2016, September 1 from the Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/PublicationsResearch/files/FactsandFigures/MVP01-1_MVP_by_type.pdf



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Events>>National Campaigns
National campaigns
Traffic engineering--Singapore
Law and government>>Safety administration>>Land transportation
Automobiles--Licenses--Singapore